Diapers and Dragons

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Surprised by Joy

On Sunday my assistant pastor preached on the topic of Joy, the Joy that comes from having one's roots firmly planted in the living soil of God--or, as discussed in John 15:1-11, being a branch that is firmly connected to the One True Vine. How often do we discuss Joy? she asked. We talk about love all the time, and that is right and good, but how often do we talk about Joy? And how often do we experience it?

You see, Joy is not mere happiness. Happiness is circumstantial; it ebbs and flows, comes and goes, as our situations change. Joy exists on a deeper level, sustained through difficult times as well as easy. Life's path does not have to run smoothly for us to experience Joy.

A month ago I wrote about catching a glimpse of Joy. Since then, I've caught it again. And again. Is life simple right now? Heck no. Is everything smooth and copacetic? Not a chance.

I mean, look at the facts. Still going through the process of divorce? Check. Kids getting sick and dripping snot all over the place? Check. Allergies rising up at the hint of spring? Check. Hips and back creating agonizing pain for over a month and a half, making me think that perhaps I need to get an MRI to see if something more sinister is going on in my lower torso? Check and dammit check.

And yet, there's an underlying sense of well-being; a solid belief that not only will I survive all this, I can and will rise above it all; a deepening sense of Joy. My students are starting to look at me sideways, checking for signs that perhaps I'm a changeling. I mean, I'm positively NICE.

Not to make it sound like I'm walking around like Polly-frickin'-anna, because that would just indicate a high level of mood-altering drugs, which are not actually in my system these days. I still get annoyed by argumentative, sulky, uncooperative preschoolers and teens (and isn't it remarkable how alike they can be?) I still lose my temper from time to time. I still get anxious over my future and what is coming my way. I still feel overwhelmed with all the Stuff That Must Be Done. I still get very frustrated with this ongoing pain and how much it is hampering my life.

But the darkness that used to sweep over me at times like this? Nowhere to be seen. The occasional shadow lurks but never overtakes.

C. S. Lewis wrote a book titled Surprised by Joy. This is what I am: surprised by Joy, by the grace extended to me, by the peace that underlies the turmoil. The uncertainty that strangled my thoughts is not solved, but neither do I find myself so breathless because of it. I find myself able to set aside doubts that tangled me before, accept the gifts freely offered me, receive love and friendship and give it in return.

And I am grateful.

6 bits of love:

Arby said...

Very, very good.

Anonymous said...

- SoccerSister

mom said...

Oh joy! Nothing like it. I remember you reading Surprised by Joy and discussing it with me when you were a bright young thing home on vacation, and perched on the kitchen stool while we talked. That book does stay with you. Loved this post, hon. It reminds me of the song we used to sing in the car on long trips: ". . .the joy of the Lord is your strenth!" By the way, I think your assistant pastor is very special. (Any hint of a new/better mattress in the offing?)

Draft Queen said...

When I finally allowed myself to be happy after Jason died, and I accepted that my actions weren't because of it, I remember being incredibly surprised by the Joy. My best friend was dead, I had legal issues requiring SEVERAL different attorneys and crazy amounts of stress.

But the Joy made it all easier to swallow.

I am so glad you can be in that place as well. Sure there is crap. There will always be crap of some kind. (Or a freaking UTI. Let's live on cranberry for ever.) Not letting the crap overshadow the wonderful things around you.

Kathleen said...

At the risk of sounding repetitive and boring: Great post!

(I'm suffering from Writer's Block, which, sadly, is leaking into my comments as well.)

GingerB said...

I am delighted for you! And a touch envious, as I have been in the midst of overwhelmed but I have some delight peeking through here and there, so this post makes sense. Hurrah!

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